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42 Percent of Films at Sundance Were Directed by Women — Here Are the Best

The entertainment industry has been talking for the last several years about trying to find ways to get women into positions of power in front of and behind the camera. With these issues come discussions of equal pay and the #MeToo movement.

More: 8 Female Athletes Who’ve Spoken Out About Equality in the Sports World

This year, the 2018 Sundance Film Festival is taking the lead by proudly showcasing work by women, especially in the role of a director. Even though there is more work to be done and changes need to be instituted on the studio side, the statistics are encouraging:

  • 42 percent of all shorts and features were directed by women
  • Of the 122 feature film selections, 37 percent were directed by women
  • Of the 69 short film selections, 51 percent were directed by women

Here are a few female-centric films directed and produced by women that you should keep your eye on during the Sundance Film Festival.

The Tale

Laura Dern The Tale
Image: Sundance Film Festival

The Tale is one of the hottest titles at the Sundance Film Festival this year. It stars Laura Dern, who is still riding the wave of her Emmy and Golden Globe success from Big Little Lies. The movie, directed by Jennifer Fox, looks into a woman’s memory and how the passage of time makes her reevaluate her very first sexual experience — and the darkness surrounding it.

Fox’s first documentary, Beirut: The Last Home Movie, won the 1988 Grand Jury Prize Documentary at Sundance. Twenty years later, she’s here with a film that is ripe for the #MeToo movement and filled with a stellar cast, including Dern, Ellen Burstyn, John Heard and Jason Ritter.


Ruth Bader Ginsburg Sundance
Image: Sundance Film Festival

RBG are the initials for the U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The documentary film, directed by Betsy West and Julie Cohen, follows her incredible career in a time when many women feel their rights in the workplace are under assault again.

This documentary gives an exclusive look behind the scenes beyond her professional life. Don’t let Ginsburg’s tiny stature fool you — she’s small but mighty.

Private Life

Private Life Sundance
Image: Sundance Film Festival

If you haven’t discovered director Tamara Jenkins’ 1998 delight, Slums of Beverly Hills, starring a young Natasha Lyonne, add it to your Netflix queue now. She also had great success at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival with The Savages, which went on to receive two Academy Award nominations for Best Actress and Best Original Screenplay.

Now, Jenkins is about to hit Sundance with a new film, Private Life. Her movie tackles a couple’s marital difficulties while undergoing fertility treatments. It’s a very contemporary story about difficulties many marriages have endured. The film stars Kathryn Hahn and Paul Giamatti.

More: James Franco Skipped the Critics’ Choice Awards — Was It the Right Decision?

Seeing Allred

Gloria Allred documentary
Image: Netflix

The title should give you all the information you need on what the film is about — Gloria Allred. Love her or hate her, the women’s rights attorney has been way ahead of the curve when it comes to calling out men for sexual harassment and assault. You may not agree with her tactics, but it’s easy to see how she pushed this movement ahead before we all joined the cause.

This documentary was codirected by Sophie Sartain and Roberta Grossman and will premiere on Netflix shortly after the Sundance Film Festival. Sartain and Grossman were going back and editing footage late in 2017 because the news was changing so quickly.

“I feel fortunate that Seeing Allred captures my passion and battle for justice for many victims of injustice,” Allred said in a Netflix press release. “The courage that my clients demonstrate, in speaking truth to power, inspires me every day as we fight together.”

A Woman Captured
This film revolves around a European woman who has lived an entire decade as a domestic slave. She bravely decides to escape her bleak fate and start over again. Before you wonder who is starring in this film — brace yourself — it’s a documentary.

The woman found the courage to leave thanks to director Bernadett Tuza-Ritter’s presence while making the film. It’s a real-life horror story, yet the turn of events leaves the viewer with a message of inspiration and hope.

More: Constance Wu’s New Movie Role Is Giving Everyone Hope for Hollywood


This dark comedy is a web series featuring short clips of stories based on producer, writer and star Susane Lee’s life. She cocreated the series with Andrew Olsen, who’s directing the series.

“We decided to create a show that we wanted to see where the world is diverse and inclusive,” said Lee in the show’s trailer. “All of the principal roles, aside from one, were cast with women or people of color.”

The 2018 Sundance Film Festival runs Jan. 18 through 28. Check out a full list of films on their website.

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